Live from the Line: LAX it is!

Well, my wish came true! I’m here on Los Angeles and I’m supposed to deadhead to Washington DC tomorrow morning. I, personally, don’t think that’s going to happen. I can’t believe how much snow their expecting and how much they’ve had already. The weather this year has been crazy! California has been flooded, Phoenix learned what rain is, and the east coast redefined the word “winter.”

DC is expecting over a foot of snow tonight into tomorrow, and my flight is supposed to depart at 7am. I wish they’d just release me and let me go home. But at the same time, today provides for some much needed catchup time with my friend Jenn, who I’m flying with and my friend Aimee, who just landed here in LA from…DC. She was lucky, she was the first and only flight out!

Well.. I’ll keep you updated.. this trip is full of surprises.

Commuting, the ups and downs. Literally.

When I took the job as a Flight Attendant at my current airline, I knew I was going to be a commuter. Something, that when I first started in this industry, I swore I’d never do.

I remember seeing the stressed look on people’s faces as they bite their nails wondering whether or not they make it on their flight home to only have one day off before heading back to base. I didn’t want to be one of them.

Now, I live in Phoenix, AZ and I commute to San Francisco. SFO is entirelly to expensive to live in, for me. That’s why I commute. The money I make at work goes 30x further in Phoenix then it ever would in SFO. Luckily, I have seniority.

I’m able to hold completely commutable trips. To me, a commutable trip is one that reports after 10:30am, and releases by 6:00pm. Usually my releases are around 1:30pm to 3pm. This enables me to have a 2 flight buffer in each direction. Usually, thats a safe bet.

San Francisco is one of the most messed up airports in the United States. Why? Because they always issue “GDPs” or Ground Delay Programs. GDPs go into place when the fog, which SFO is known for, is so dense and populated that you cannot see the runways at the SFO airport from the San Mateo bridge. At that point, the pilots are unable to preform a visual approach and must use an instrumental approach which means the arrival rates are cut half. This leads to delays at every airline arriving into San Francisco until the GDP is lifted.

Two nights ago, I was planning my commute to work, I had a checking in time of 2:10pm, while my boyfriend made dinner. I was agonizing over which flights to take to work after checking the weather. Clouds were predicted under 1000ft. That’s a sure sign of a GDP. I debated going to Oakland, CA and taking BART (bay area rapid transit) over to SFO, but thats $10 wasted and another hour added to my commute. I thought about a flight through San Diego, arriving in SFO at 11:45am, but thats still prime GDP time. My first choice though was a 10am nonstop to SFO arriving at 12pm, though I still was uneasy about the arrival time and the possibility of a GDP. .All of this, to avoid taking a 6:35am flight, nonstop from Phoenix to San Francisco arriving at work 6 hours earlier than I needed to. I knew the flight was open and would land ontime, it always does, but I didn’t want to wake up at 4am.

At 9:45pm I decided to suck it up and take the 6:35am flight. I think that decision saved my job, or at least a write-up.

At 9:15am the next morning, I was checking the crew scheduling system and saw that a

SFO Fog Around the Golden Gate Bridge

SFO Fog Around the Golden Gate Bridge

friend of mine from PHX was working a plane in from JFK. I went down to meet him, and walked over to the gate for his commute to Phoenix. It was delayed until 2:35pm. Everything was delayed, SFO was a mess because of the clouds and fog. If the flight was leaving at 2:35pm that means they built in 20 minutes to board, I was flying Southwest, which means the flight was due to land at 2:05pm.

My friend and I watched all these people ask the agents questions, yell at them,and demand answers. All because of clouds. In one response the agent gave to a passenger I overheard “they held the flight longer in Phoenix, we’re working on getting you a different airplane.”

I quickly thought, wow, this plane is coming from Phoenix.. I wonder what flight it was. You guessed it. It was my first choice, almost got on, 10am flight to SFO. Not only was there a GDP into SFO but the wind shifted in Phoenix causing an additional 30 minute delay as the planes changed runways. That flight landed at 2:20pm.

Had I taken that flight, I would have no-called, no-showed, missed a trip. Thankfully, the non-rev gods gave me good sense the night before to realize that SFO is a mess of an airport and gave me the guidance to wake up at 4am and take the first non-stop.

Commuting has its privileges, such as making your money go further than it could it in your base city and living in a city you love while working for a company you like to work for. But it has its disadvantages, complete undue stress! I cannot begin to imagine what I would have felt like had I decided to take that 10am flight. All I can say is I’m thankful for listening to that inner voice that told me, “don’t do it.”